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Week 12 Dynasty Elevator- Up and Down

Adrian Peterson

Peterson injured his ankle in the second quarter of the Week 12 game. He went to the sideline and was taped up. For the rest of the game, Peterson stood on the sideline with his helmet in hand as if waiting for the word to return to action. However, new Minnesota Vikings’ coach Leslie Frazer did not oblige. Peterson was kept out the rest of the game after posting noticeable numbers in practically the first quarter alone.

Toby Gerhart was given 22 carries on the day after Peterson’s sideline trip. Peterson is set to have an MRI today on the injured ankle. He reported that his ankle was throbbing and wouldn’t loosen up. We won’t know anything until the MRI comes back, but we do know something already. Minnesota is dead in the water in terms of playoff hopes. If they had a shot at the playoffs, you know that Peterson would have had his helmet on ready to go back into battle. But Frazer doesn’t want to be known as the guy who broke Peterson in a meaningless game in a meaningless season.

Many league formats begin their playoffs in as little as two weeks from now. Even if the MRI results come back negative for significant injury, you better believe that Frazier will be babying Peterson. That hurts his immediate 2010 value. But, even if it’s an injury that requires time off this season, it shouldn’t have much impact on his dynasty value. Peterson once again eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark for the forth consecutive year. I think that it’s safe to say that we’ll see Peterson again this season, but they may give him more time off to rest than needs be. That being said, you should expect a heavier dose than usual of Gerhart. If you made the fantasy playoffs and you have Peterson as your No. 1 back then you now have serious issues to deal with.

Dwayne Bowe

After everything that has happened within the past two years in Kansas City, it’s unbelievable to think of where Bowe is now to where he was last season. There were rumors of fallout between Bowe and the coaching staff. He was said to show up to training game out of shape and unmotivated. Then his production fell off from what everyone was expecting. There was a time not too long ago where it would have made sense for the team to move in a different direction.

But patience is a virtue and Kansas City is now extremely virtuous. Bowe still makes the mental errors on almost a weekly basis with the huge drops on the easy passes, but then he charges back with an acrobatic touchdown to make up for it. No matter how many balls he drops, Bowe will remain Matt Cassel’s go-to on every pass play.

Cassel has seemingly improved by leaps and bounds over the past couple of months. The connection seems to be one of the most dangerous in terms of fantasy production. Bowe’s 14 touchdowns are good enough to currently be best in the NFL. With Cassel, Jamaal Charles and Bowe locked up for the foreseeable future, there is no reason to believe that the chemistry that exists on offense should change dramatically. It would be nice to see Bowe dedicate himself a little more and erase the aforementioned issues of coaching gripes and training camp issues, but even still, if he can come out and perform like he has again next season then who really cares? Bowe is making a strong case for himself to be considered a top flight option next season.

(But I offer you a word of caution. It is impossible to predict touchdown production for a receiver. Granted a bigger body, good hands and quarterback looks play big parts into the touchdown equation. But didn’t Vernon Davis take all three of those into this season from last season? He has the same body type, the same hands and the same quarterback and look at his production from last year to this year. Look at Larry Fitzgerald. Huge body type, the best hands in the league and more targets than you can shake a stick at, and his touchdowns are way down from last year. Randy Moss went from a projected Top 3 option to garbage in the course of a three-week span. Yardage is way easier to try to estimate than touchdowns. Bowe will be a solid option for next season, but please don’t label him or any other wide receiver for that matter as a lock for double-digit touchdowns. Such expectations will end more often than not in disappointment).

Andre Johnson

Midway through the fourth quarter against the Tennessee Titans we saw a huge change in the fantasy playoff landscape. Johnson lost his cool and it could cost many owners a fantasy championship. Cortland Finnegan and Johnson’s brawl will surely be followed up with more than just fines. I would expect at the very least a game suspension for both involved. It was shocking to say the least to see the soft spoken Texans’ receiver engage in something more suited for the NHL than the NFL. In hockey it’s part of the sport, where in football it’s part of the problem.

Roger Goodell has been trying like crazy to change the image of the NFL. Goodell wants people to think of professional athletes when we think of the NFL. However over the past few years cases like Michael Vick, Vince Young, Tank Johnson and Ben Roethlisberger have stained the attempt to revamp the NFL’s image. Last week Richard Seymour punched Roethlisberger’s facemask, knocking the Steelers quarterback to the ground. There were rumors then of a suspension though the commissioner settled for a fine. However, this is far and away a more extreme case. There is a chance that Johnson could miss multiple games in the next few weeks beginning with the Thursday night game this week. It couldn’t come at a worse time as owners have been using Johnson as their lock option at the receiver position.

Many managers will be scrambling this week to find a piece to fill the void in the likely event that Johnson is suspended. Missing any time is a hit to value, but given the time of the year that these games would be missed makes it even more detrimental. Johnson’s dynasty value isn’t impacted due to the fact that it won’t affect him next season. But his immediate value is now in question. The mixture of a high ankle sprain with a suspension could cost Johnson as much as three games on the season. This season wasn’t the one we were expecting when selecting him with a Top 6 selection in the draft, but next season is a clean slate.

Peyton Hillis

We’ve officially reached the point where Hillis’ production can’t be ignored. His Week 12 production which included three touchdown runs, has rocketed Hillis’ value. Much like Arian Foster over in Houston with Ben Tate, Hillis was expected to be the No. 2 back behind Montario Hardesty. Actually in Hillis’ case he was even further down the depth chart than Foster due to Jerome Harrison’s presence on the Cleveland Browns. But Hillis made the best out of all the chances he’s been given and has become a stud option at running back.

A year under Colt McCoy’s belt will raise Hillis’ value for next season. Cleveland would be smart to go out and find a receiver to help take defensive pressure off the run game. As I explained earlier, wide receiver is the hardest position to try to gauge touchdowns for. That being said, if you know who the goal line back and the homerun hitters are you can more accurately predict running back touchdowns. And the fact that Hillis is both the goal line back and the homerun hitter would lead one to believe that he’ll get many scoring chances.

As the football years roll on, new name players move up and take the stars away from the once-dominate players. Hillis could be moving up the rankings to the Top 10 if he keeps the production rolling, taking the spot of a down year player. Hillis could be moving on up and edging out such highly ranked running backs as DeAngelo Williams and Cedric Benson. Hillis’ immediate value is that of a top three option and his future value is that of a top ten running back.

Brandon Lloyd

Ok. Let me begin by saying that nobody thinks that this guy is more of a fluke than I do. If he was that good of a receiver he’d be playing opposite of Michael Crabtree, still with the San Francisco 49ers. But like Hillis, we’ve reached a point where the numbers can no longer be ignored. More than 1,100 yards already and what should work out to be double-digit touchdowns at season’s end should be enough to push Lloyd past Bowe and Roddy White as the top fantasy wide receiver for the 2010 season.

The Denver Broncos have many wild cards that they have to play before we can truly decide on Lloyd’s value for next season though. Firstly, what are the Broncos planning on doing with Tim Tebow? If Tebow finds his way into the starting lineup for any reason then the quarterback to wide receiver chemistry could be interrupted. Secondly, will Demaryius Thomas find his way onto the field for more than a few games? Thomas was drafted to replace the departing Brandon Marshall. However, it’s been Lloyd who has filled the open position. Could a year of NFL routine and a cut down on injuries push  Thomas to the top of the depth chart? Both are possible but the numbers will be too high to ignore going into next season.

All players have the potential to either make your team a winner or throw it into the dump. But I feel as though where Lloyd could potentially go in the draft that he has a higher chance of being a team breaker than team maker. There is a chance that Lloyd will be selected as early as the second round next season, which, regardless of numbers, is too rich for my blood. Certainly, if the price is right then Lloyd is a great option. But don’t focus solely on the stat line. Lloyd’s immediate value is that of a Top 2 wide receiver. His value for next season is a “definite maybe” 50-50 type of play. Either he’ll make you, or he’ll break you.

Tom Brady

Has Brady done enough over the past two weeks to show fantasy land exactly where he ranks in terms of quarterback value? I would hope so. Brady has been on a rampage over the past few weeks, including his four-touchdown drumming of the Detroit defense on Thanksgiving.

Brady has the ingredients for what could be a stellar season again next year. Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski provide mismatching ability that coach Bill Belichick loves to torture defenses with. Deion Branch and Wes Welker provide good hands, good yards after the catch ability and are always seemingly open. And to top it all off, the Patriots seem to have found a replacement for the aging and injured Kevin Faulk in Danny Woodhead. That five-player personnel provides good yardage, check down options, extra yardage after the catch and red zone targets.

Hernandez and Gronkowski will have an entire year of NFL play under their caps heading into the 2011 season. Branch and Woodhead will have an entire offseason and training camp to work with Brady and the coaching staff. And the cherry on top is that  Welker will be more than a year removed from his knee injury. All of those perks mixed with Brady’s ability to play efficient and effective football should lead to another Pro Bowl season for “Tom Terrific” in 2011. Brady’s immediate value is approximately fifth in quarterback ranking behind Peyton Manning, Philip Rivers, Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees. His value for next season remains as the fifth-best option, but with room to climb up into the top three.

Santonio Holmes

Here’s a situation where if everything works out in his favor that the player could jump from a 2010 ranking of approximately No. 20 to a 2011 ranking of just outside the Top 10. Braylon Edwards could be on his way out of New York after all the troubles that he has been connected to over the past two seasons. That, and he’ll be looking for a payday that the New York Jets may not have the wallet to make.

Holmes has provided the Jets offense with a game breaker spark that could grow into a forest fire in 2011. Mark Sanchez seems to have established on field chemistry quickly with Holmes even though Holmes missed the first quarter of the season due to suspension. With Sanchez entering his third year as quarterback next season and Holmes having the chance to build upon his late start this year could lead to huge numbers next season for the shifty receiver. The offense is so well-balanced that Holmes can’t be double-covered and should be allowed more room than what he would get on most other teams.

Holmes will be drafted as a No. 2 receiver that will finish with No. 1 receiver numbers. His immediate value is extremely high for the rest of the season. His future value would take a boost if Edwards is allowed to leave via free agency.

Fred Jackson

Remember when the Buffalo Bills decided that they needed a huge threat out of the backfield and drafted C.J. Spiller in the 2010 NFL draft? They must not have realized that they already had a homerun hitter at running back in Jackson.

Things have worked out nicely for Jackson in 2010. His co-pilot in the backfield in Marshawn Lynch was sent packing to Seattle. Then Spiller went out with an injury indefinitely. Jackson took those chances and turned them into what will eventually be a big payday. Jackson has been great as both a runner and as a receiver. The Bills are lacking in premier options and Jackson and Stevie Johnson have been the only ones to step in and try to fill the void. With how well Jackson receives out of the backfield and how often Ryan Fitzpatrick needs to locate the check down option I’d expect his receiving stats to stay consistently high.

Jackson’s immediate value is that of a must-start No. 2 running back option. In terms of his future value, given the fact that Spiller lingers around the locker room casts shadows on Jackson’s potential for next season. Unless you have two stud running backs on your roster that are sure plays each week (ie: Chris Johnson and Adrian Peterson), Jackson should be in your lineup from here until the end of the playoffs. Next season though, Spiller could cut considerably into Jackson’s production and opportunities.

Mike Tolbert

Just like the Bills, the San Diego Chargers thought that their biggest need in the NFL draft was at the running back position. So the Chargers take the first running back off the board in Ryan Mathews. The Chargers’ organization wanted to replace the decade of LaDainian Tomlinson with a decade of Mathews. What the Chargers didn’t realize was that they had a great backfield without the addition of Mathews.

Tolbert has become a superior option at running back in 2010. He’s built like a fullback and has surprising speed. He reminds me a lot of when Michael Turner used to carry the rock for San Diego. That being said, what happens next season when Tolbert is back and Mathews is healthy? The Chargers invested a huge portion of their franchise in the selection of Mathews, but at the same time can’t ignore the production from Tolbert. And to throw another wrench into the works, Darren Sproles is still highly productive catching out of the backfield. Let’s say that Tolbert becomes the short-yardage back. Sproles will still be the third-down back. So how much opportunity will Mathews get next season? One carry per series? I think at this point, San Diego will use Mathews, Tolbert and Sproles in the same manner that the New England Patriots use their backs in BenJarvus Green-Ellis, Sammy Morris and Danny Woodhead.

Tolbert remains a solid play each week for the rest of the season. The Chargers don’t want to risk further injury to their first-round back and Tolbert will reap the benefits. But next season, Tolbert could see a huge loss in value with Mathews maturing and Sproles being an elite third-down back. Tolbert could turn into a Marion Barber type of back in 2011 meaning you start you him and hope for 30 yards and a touchdown.

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